(From Chapter 18, The Nightbird)
His mind, in addition to being pleasantly Mended, was still in searing pain, and thus these two effects combined into an odd state of both being completely awake and drifting off to dreams in the cozy white. His lids were beginning to feel heavy as he held rigid in his seat as the oppressive sense of eyes on him grew. He didn’t dare wipe the wet collected on his face nor attempt to warm the numbness in his fingers but simply sat in this bizarre, uncomfortable state—all his reason seemingly abandoned. His thoughts came out in voices in his head that did not heed each other nor cease politely for one to overcome the others, so they all came out at once in an inane stream. Pictures blurred behind his face, but not before those same creatures crept through the white of the fog, shooting him back to wakefulness.
It was as if his mind would jostle with every step of his steed with left or right foot. The rocks crunch seemed like boulders descending down an avalanche. Even the odd twitch of the horse’s ears sent butterflies through the air.
Swiftly, Maygest slapped himself in the face. The odd images ebbing into white.
“Can’t do this right now, Mayg,” he said to himself.
He thought he heard someone laughing from the mist. He violently shook his head, for once realizing how numb his cheeks were. This thought didn’t linger long, though, as his eyes went off over the fall. There was only white now. The other ridge that they had just been on, the one Horsey died getting him up, was long vanished.
“Good that,” he whispered, the noise sounding distant to him. He even noted that that voice sounded annoying.
He turned back forward, his eyes on what little gravel he could see. Onward the horse stepped, but that feeling of eyes crept up on him again. The hairs rose on the back of his neck. It was behind him. He just knew. Whirling his head about, there was black on white. It was a great bird, jet black, sleek in his muscular form, eyes of a man—staring back at him level, thus was its height.
Maygest paled, his hands trembling.
It was the Nightbird.
It didn’t make a motion. Its eyes just kept on him, and he could swear that its beak was smiling too.
“Not yet,” he uttered.
The motion of his lips voicing these words felt cold and cumbersome like he’d been forced to speak under a waterfall.
Those sharp black lids clipped shut, blocking out the sight of those blood-red eyes.
Then in his mind, he heard the most melodic whisper, “Maybe not. I’ll come when the song is sung. Strum the harp, and I will come.”
At once the image vanished, curling away into the smoke.
Still, despite its departure, there was a silky ice that had lingered like cobwebs stuck to his heart. “Strum the harp,” it said. Now he knew what was waiting for him at the end of his goal—night.
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